UK mission in Delhi receives 6,388 forged visa forms

Spurt in number of forgeries detected in visa applications lodged in Delhi had prompted British high commission to stop accepting new applications.

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2012, 21:20 PM IST

London: The spurt in the number of forgeries
detected in the student visa applications lodged in New Delhi
during 2010 had prompted the British high commission to stop
accepting new applications, official sources said here.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said that
6,388 forgeries were detected in the New Delhi office, which
was a considerable increase compared to the number of such
cases detected in previous years: 2,846 in 2009 and 2,153 in
2008.

In February 2010, the UK Border Agency stopped accepting
new Tier 4 (students) applications from North India, Nepal and
Bangladesh due to the surge in numbers, while it reviewed
existing applications.

The ban was lifted fully in August 2010.
The NAO report said up to 50,000 non-EU migrants may have
exploited flaws in the student visa system from 2009 because
the Border Agency implemented Tier 4 system before key
controls were in place.

"Based on college enrolment rates and changes in
application patterns, the NAO estimates that, in its first
year of operation, between 40,000 and 50,000 individuals may
have entered the UK via Tier 4 to work rather than to study,"
the report said.

The highest number of forgeries in student visa
applications were detected in Islamabad, New Delhi, Dhaka and
Chennai, the report states.
The NAO said that the Border Agency had taken little
action to prevent and detect students overstaying or working
in breach of their visa conditions because the Agency regards
them as low priority compared to illegal immigrants and failed
asylum seekers.

"The Agency introduced new controls in 2011 and a
fully-documented compliance strategy in December 2011 that are
likely to reduce the number of problem students.

"But it will not be possible to determine the value
for money of the Points Based System for students, unless the
Agency establishes ways to measure its success in tackling
abuse, including how it deals with overstaying, and to
establish the full cost of its Tier 4 related activities", it
said.

Criticising the David Cameron government, Labour MP
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Commons Public Accounts
Committee, said: "This is one of the most shocking reports of
poor management leading to abuse that I have seen.

The agency needs to get a grip and fix the way it deals
with student visas."

But immigration minister Damian Green said: "This
government has introduced radical reforms in order to stamp
out abuse and restore order to the uncontrolled student visa
system we inherited."

Green added: "These include tough new rules on English
language, working rights and dependants to ensure only
legitimate students come to the UK.

New restrictions on post-study work mean that all but
the very best will return home after study."

Claiming that the new measures were beginning to bite, Green said that the number of student visas issued had
dropped considerably in the second half of 2011, compared to
the same period in 2010.

PTI